Pence greets friends, local Republicans at Muncie airport before Taylor commencement
Friends, supporters and local Republicans gathered at Muncie’s airport Saturday morning to view Air Force Two, but more importantly its occupant.
Vice President Mike Pence landed at the Delaware County Regional Airport around 8:30 a.m. before heading out to Taylor University to deliver his address for the university’s commencement.
Tony Skinner, Delaware County sheriff, who briefly interacted with Pence immediately after he and his wife Karen Pence walked out of the white and blue airplane, said it was a "big deal" for Muncie to have the vice president fly in.
“We talked about what it was like for our deputies to interact with the secret service all week and their advanced team, and how smoothly everything went,” Skinner said.
There have been a few presidential and vice presidential candidates fly in to Muncie he said, giving the 2008 visits of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin’s as examples.
“But this is the first time in a long time that we’ve had an actual vice president here,” Skinner said.
Jessica Piper, Delaware County councilwoman, said Pence stopping by was a “really neat opportunity” for the city to have.
“I think, being a lifelong resident of Delaware County … it’s so exciting that our little airport has the vice president arriving today,” Piper said. “I haven’t seen this much action here in a while.”
Also present was Dan Ridenour, Republican mayoral candidate of Muncie.
“He’s a wonderful man, cares about our country,” Ridenour said. “I think it’s great for Muncie and I’m excited to be here.”
Ridenour said an official visit to Muncie itself could be a possibility down the road because “there are a lot of people here who have long-term connections with Mr. Pence.”
Bob Ratchford, who said he was friends with the vice president and his wife, said in his interaction with Pence, the vice president said he was grateful that people came out to welcome him and that he loves the Hoosier hospitality.
“Mike gave me nice firm handshake. Karen gave me a great big hug," he said. "They’re just people you can sit down and talk to. They’re very nice people.”
Along with Bob was his daughter Anna Ratchford, a senior elementary education major at Purdue University.
“I told Karen [about my major] and she was telling me that it was a good choice and she could see me being a great teacher,” Anna said.
Kaye Whitehead, a Delaware County farmer, and Donna Gilkison, a retired school teacher, said they’ve known the Pences for a long time.
“To see them live and to know that they have not forgotten where they came from and that’s so very important,” Gilkison said. “You gotta keep your roots.”
Whitehead said Pence was “part of the fabric of what this community is about.”
“It doesn’t mean that everyone is going to agree a hundred percent of the time with everything,” she said. “But when you get down to the basic foundation, he’s just one of us.”